Payne, born in Akron, Ohio in 1949, lived in the mid-West until college, when he moved to Boston to attend Harvard. He graduated with a degree in History, then moved to California to edit, proofread and publish, among other things.
Director Arteta, known for his quiet, thought-provoking work like The Good Girl, suspends Payne’s protagonist Nick Twisp, played by Michael Cera, in a heady yet lovelorn light. Nick is often baffled and gaffed by the adult characters in the story, especially his mother and her boyfriend, who propose a vacation to a cabin-in-the-woods, which turns out to be an old trailer-in-the-park.
The setting matters to the audience because it reflects the disappointment Nick feels at being young and not getting what he longs for. What Nick wants more than anything, of course, is sex. When he meets Sheeni, a girl with her own high-school-age fantasies (French culture, mais oui), he creates an alter-ego, François. Like a fantasy, Nick and Sheeni’s intelligent, well-versed dialectic creates a crisp, funny, retro foreground to juxtapose the background.
Youth In Revolt’s story travels outside the characters’ physical world as we become aware of the exciting potential of hip, bright young-love. The family retreat and the campfire coziness of the woods is a fun way to see through the run-a-muck mind’s-eye of a young guy obsessed with sex, but more importantly who values intellectual and imaginative girls.